Self Publishing 101: Choosing Your Publisher

UPDATED 12/14/17

I’ve made it easy for you. You’re welcome.

Self publishing sucks. Believe me, I get it. Not only am I self published but I have worked in the book business for years, enough to know what gets into the stores and what doesn’t. I know the easy going publishers (Arcadia) and the Harvard of book publishers (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

I also know that there are many independent authors who get upset if we don’t order their books into the stores. Our reasons are valid but that’s for another article.

I have put together a guide for you with links so you can be better informed about your difficult decision. Not everyone is listed below as new hybrids pop up daily. Don’t fret. Some self published authors go on to have great careers and get picked up by big named publishers. John Grisham was originally self published as was E.L. James.

I’ve tried to give you the quick nuts and bolts of each company and tried to stay unbiased. I also do not mention the percentage each publisher takes from the sale of your book. This changes all of the time so you need to look into it on their websites. Some are “hybrid” publishers which is a fancy word for a publisher that asks for money up front. Don’t be scared off by that. A few hybrid publishers give you a lot for your money and if this is the choice you make, make sure that your package includes the ability for bookstores to return your book. Do NOT allow your book to be “non-returnable”.




A hybrid publisher brought to you by heavy hitter, Simon & Schuster. Archway offers packages. The more expensive the package, the more resources you get. This includes marketing and a publicist. The packages are organized by genre and range from $1,599 and up.


Barnes & Noble’s self publishing site is FREE and now offers print and pay publishing as well as ebook publishing. You do not get an ISBN but can add one if you own it. Your ebook is easy to edit and the changes go live within a few hours. The paper process is a bit like Shutterfly and nice if you are making a book to give as a gift but it won’t get your book in the stores. UPDATE. I guess it will now get your book in the stores, as long as you have sold 500 a year or 1000 copies of your title on NookPress. This will also open you up to signings in the store which is a pretty sweet deal. 



This area is for FREE ebook publishing only. However, Amazon does partner with CreateSpace which offers self publishing print. KDP has a fantastic cover creator and allows you to edit your book after it is available electronically. It takes roughly 24 hours for edits to go live. 


This is a print self publisher and you can get copies for next to nothing. However, on bookstore computers, your novel will be POD or “print on demand”. This means a copy must be printed and mailed to the customer. Many bookstores do not allow signings of POD books as they have to eat the cost. The upside is that you can get an ISBN for your book at practically nothing, though the quality of the book varies. This is the most popular self pub option because they offer FREE printing but there’s a catch. They take an overwhelming amount of royalties from your sales which forces you drive up the price of your book.

This self publisher does the work for you when it comes to getting your ebook on kdp or nookpress. For $35 you get a tidy package with consultation but the higher priced packages have the most to offer.


Publish Green offers ebook publishing only. Packages vary and some come with a Marketing Consulation and for $1199 they will make a trailer for your book.


A romance writer’s hybrid publisher, EverAfter is a collaboration team that works to get your already self published romance book a bigger audience by offering print versions that can get stocked in bookstores. They are looking for e-books that are already doing well so consider them the next step for your romance novel.


Helping authors self publish since 1997, Infinity has packages that start at $199. You are able to schedule a consultation and there are audio version packages available.


At the bookstore we get letters from inmates who are unable to publish their books. They want to know where to go. Freebird offers options for prisoners and their families.


Kickstarter for novels. Inkshares will allow you to fundraise for your book like you would for a project and if you get so many pre-orders, they will publish it. Their website is so well done that even the least tech savvy authors will understand what the company is about and the steps they must take. An impressive concept that I see many publishers following in the future.

Packages start at $799 and the most expensive will get you an interview with Stu Taylor. There is also a great graphic novel package for a fair price.


They are friendly towards certain genres that are hard to sell to agents: children’s, poetry, and short stories. They have a wide range of packages and give you a direct line to a marketing consultant.


What? 100% of the profits are yours? I was really excited when I heard about Pronoun so I signed up for early access. Pronoun helps you out if you don’t know how to load your ebooks onto B&N or Amazon. However, there is no print version and you don’t get 100% of profits but you do get a healthy percentage. They also have a great community of illustrators and artists offering you their paid services. UPDATE: In 2018, PRONOUN (purchased earlier by Macmillan) went out of business.


They have a nice cover creator (with ready-made templates) for your printed book’s front and back covers. They have printing packages starting at $1199 and some even help you with copyright registration or creating an author website.


Following the very smart trend of large publishers creating self publishing packages (Archway, see above), the Christian publishing big cheese, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, has created WestBow. Mind you this is self publishing help for authors who only write books about Christian values and inspirational themes. WestBow offers a nice editor package and a direct line to a publishing consultant as well as options for hardcover, e-book and audiobook.


True to the name this is a women-centric hybrid publisher and it only has one package for you to worry about which is $4,900, competitive with one of Archway’s best packages. She Writes Press gives you a large community of women writers, proofreading (yay), copyright filing, and beautiful cover design as well as other services.


Founded in 1998, Light Messages is a mix of publisher and hybrid and they publish both print and e-book form. I had to dig to find that they will charge Partnership Authors at least $450 to publish, with caveats. Their royalties are very fair and your package gives you an editor or consultant and the backing of what looks like a big name publisher. They do not accept all submissions.


The most expensive package is $399 and not only does it give you access to brick and mortar stores via Baker & Taylor and Ingram, but it also gives you someone who will design a professional interior for your book. Authors have the ability to order copies of their book for cents and have them shipped to their home. You will need to have a completed work ready to download.


  • Comic by Tom Gauld
Nicolina Torres
Nicolina Torres

Nikki worked for Barnes & Noble for 15 years, in seven stores. She is the author of This Red Fire, Young Nation, and Girls Who Wear Glasses. She prefers to live in the country and is a new aunt to a potential bookworm.

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